Tuesday , September 2 2014
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All That Glitters



Richard Alan  Rarely a day goes by that I don’t get astonished and or flabbergasted by comments made by misinformed or superstitious folks who enter my establishment. I’d like to quote Rick who runs the Las Vegas pawn shop on the T.V. show Pawn Stars. “Even after 30 years in the business you never know what will walk in that door.” Call them wives’ tales or folklore, you name it, most of the time it is just wrong information. Here are some of my favorite ones. You may even believe they are true. Never give opal jewelry to someone if ... Read More »


Richard Alan  Buyer beware is a term used probably before ancient Roman times, to warn even savvy consumers that if the price of merchandise they are purchasing is too good to be true it usually is. I grew up with a saying my mentor, and at the time my master, often quoted (I was an apprentice goldsmith then though I felt like an indentured servant.) “The bitterness of a low price lingers long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten” Ben Franklin.  That saying influenced my whole life, not just what I bought for my household, but even ... Read More »

Honesty & integrity

Richard Alan I’m finally settled in and open at my new location at Island Plaza (better known as Beall’s Plaza) and in just two short weeks I have achieved the desired results I was hoping for. One was to be busier than I was at my old Front Street location, the other was to attract some new clientele. It’s no secret to many of us seasoned island business people that lots of our customers abandon “the rock” each year and many never return for whatever reasons. I have seen a lot of new faces with the old and that’s a ... Read More »

Blue Suede Blues

Richard Alan September is almost over, and I finally got my business moved to my new location at Island Plaza. All my thanks to the contractors, inspectors and my father in-law, Ray, who designed and created the shop of my dreams. September is also the month that has one of the nicest birthstones… the sapphire. A beautiful multi colored gemstone that is also hard and enduring; it can take what life throws at it and not show scratches or chips. The sapphire is a member of the basic superior gem group which includes ruby, emerald and diamond. Sapphire is a ... Read More »

Best laid plans

Richard Alan Again, things are a bit tricky on the rock surrounded by water, a new bridge, torn up streets, detours everywhere, all this with an unpredictable season in the future. I chose this moment in time to move my jewelry business because of the alignment of the planets and tea leaf readings and yes, I factored in this marvelous economy we have been experiencing. I figured it would take a few days to clear out Front Street. I figured wrong, it took two weeks. Set up the new shop in Island Plaza and get it running in a couple ... Read More »


By Richard Alan Up and up we go! Clickity, clack, clickity, clack, over the crest and down, then up, then down, then way, way up! Where’s my stomach? I’m getting dizzy. Will some one please get me off this endless roller coaster ride? No, I’m not talking about being trapped on a crazy ride at some amusement park. My metaphor is about the precious metals market that includes platinum, silver and most important GOLD! I’m a goldsmith, remember? I need to buy this stuff to ply my trade and make a living. It’s not just me but all my colleagues ... Read More »

Ruby, the famous lady in red

By Richard Alan Besides being one of my favorite gemstones the ruby is also the birthstone for those blessed to be born in the month of July. The rubies originating from Thailand are perhaps the most recognizable of rubies although East Africa is more recently a source. But the Burma ruby is coveted for its deep red color, clarity and overall magnificence. The color of ruby varies from bright “cherry red” to a soft bubbly pinkish color. I prefer what is called pigeon’s blood for the ideal color. Dark red to the other end of the color spectrum, light pink. ... Read More »

There’s gold in them thar drawers!

Richard Alan Would an infusion of found cash be a great way to start your day? It would be like finding a wad of hundred dollar bills in an unused suit jacket or a rarely used purse. Believe it or not, there is treasure in your home only a few paces away. I’m talking about gold or silver scrap, which can include broken or un-loved jewelry. Unless you have been living under a coral rock or somewhere on one of the deserted 10,000 islands for the past year or so it’s no secret that all precious metals are at an ... Read More »

If I ignore it, maybe it’ll go away

By Richard Alan I realize most men need to be reminded about certain events deemed important by the opposite sex such as first dates, birthdays, holidays, and the most serious of sins… to forget one’s wedding anniversary date. Many of us alpha-males who have experienced “The quiet punishment” resulting from forgetting a wedding date or heaven forbid her birthday will be sure to make a mental note to self… I must avoid that silent torture in the future. Good gawd, I got punished for forgetting what she was wearing the day we met! (So I bribed a close family member ... Read More »

Divorce Jewelry?

By Richard Alan Wait, before you decide I’m crazy and turn the page, you must understand I get many requests for such things. Yeah, I know, weeks ago I spoke about the beauty of a long and loving marriage and how many couples even renew vows after certain anniversary dates. And I have the utmost respect for them. Personally, I’m a realist and being in the jewelry business my whole life I have seen many couples in love picking out that special engagement ring. Many survive the engagement and many don’t. Sometimes he’s back looking for a refund on the ... Read More »

State of the jewelry biz… 2011

It was once again an interesting season on Marco Island and the rest of the planet. The 2010 holiday season was busier than 2009 and as I predicted,  silver was white hot! I did something that carried me through and surpassed the dismal 2009 season, I began manufacturing sea life silver jewelry with gold accents instead of all gold, the response was fantastic! My off season will be dedicated to creating more new designs for the next holiday season; less gold more silver makes my pieces more affordable. Gratefully there are still occasional clients who still won’t settle for anything ... Read More »

Get wired

By Richard Alan The things ladies wear on their necks like most fashions come and go but one style of neckwear has in my opinion never reached its peak. I’m talking about the simple neck wire. But before I elaborate on neck wires I wish to quell the rumors about “my retirement” and selling the business. I have not retired, but after forty years at the bench, I am limiting my hours at the store, let’s call it “semi-retired” as far as my business… The Harbor Goldsmith is concerned. This summer I am simply moving it and its staff from ... Read More »

Inspiring inscriptions

By Richard Alan Often times when I am accepting a repair or alteration, let’s say a ring sizing, especially an antique ring, I make a note to myself to be careful not to disturb the inside engraving it may contain. You would be surprised how many people are unaware that their inherited rings have engraving on the inside diameter. A century ago, before we could call, beep, page, fax or e-mail or text someone, people actually wrote letters to each other. Often times separated by miles or oceans or a loved one could be away in some war in some ... Read More »

So… What does a goldsmith do?

By Richard Alan A couple of years ago a confused gentleman entered my shop tossed a ring of keys on my counter and politely asked me to make two of each (Gulf Lock and Safe is next door.) I remarked that I would be happy to oblige him, “What metal would you prefer them in gold or platinum?” His reply…”What”? Let me point out he’s the one standing in a showroom with jewelry from wall to wall; I considered it a perfectly intelligent question. After I explained to the wayward soul that the locksmith is next door, he asked me ... Read More »

Comfort jewelry

By Richard Alan Everyone is familiar with comfort food. It’s plain and simple, its warmth and taste makes you feel good and cozy. Maybe I’m wrong but some ladies feel the same way about the jewelry they wear. No self-respecting woman I know would be caught dead leaving the house, even if it’s a quick trip to the supermarket without her hair or make up looking just right. (Although I have once witnessed the sight of a woman pushing a shopping cart at Publix in curlers, slippers and what sure looked like a bath robe! I love this island!) There can ... Read More »

Viva la difference

By Richard Alan A strange occurrence has appeared at my shop the past few weeks and that is the demand for diamonds that are any color than white. Different from white you say? The most asked for is the yellow canary diamond. But you thought that if a diamond is yellow that means it’s not a good color diamond. Right? Wrong! I’m talking vibrant yellow like a canary in a coal mine. I’m amazed that customers are surprised to see that diamonds come in many colors besides yellow; there are many shades of blue, green, pink, even brown and jet ... Read More »

Living a charmed life

By Richard Alan The personal adornment of a charm bracelet or a charm hanging around one’s neck has been enjoying a re-birth in recent years. Once considered passé I’m finding them more in demand than I can remember. The wearing or simple possession of a charm or “talisman” goes back to the dawn of time. Archaeological discoveries and excavations have brought to light thousands of miniature amulets or charms from the primordial era, an incredible 30,000 years B.C.! So why would literally a cave person possess such things? There are many reasons to wear them, to please benevolent spirits or ... Read More »

Repair it and wear it!

By Richard Alan Not much lasts forever, unless it’s a diamond, unfortunately the piece of jewelry it’s set in doesn’t last that long. I’m always amazed at people’s reactions when I notice discrepancies while inspecting customer’s jewelry. There can be prongs or even stones missing, cracked and damaged mountings, and their reaction is usually surprise or shock. I like to use the comparison of what happens to an ordinary pair of shoes when you wear for 15 or 20 years without taking them off every now and then to resole them. It’s only a matter of time before your toes ... Read More »

Care of your fine jewelry… Part II

by Richard Alan I left off last time with the daunting task of cleaning silver. Ten years or so ago it was fairly easy to do, but with current technology most silver jewelry is now plated with a coating of nickel, rhodium or palladium. Most folks know that sterling silver tarnishes, the younger generations blame the jeweler, I explain that if it didn’t it would cost the same as gold. Living on a tropical island surrounded by salt water and constant heat and humidity it’s nearly impossible to prevent. However, you can slow down the darkening process by these simple steps. Purchase a ... Read More »

Proper care of your fine jewelry, Part I

by Richard Alan Nobody, but nobody, cleans a piece of jewelry like I do. In this column, and the next, I will explain simple instructions for you to get great results at home and help prevent the damage most folks inflict on their precious pieces of jewelry. The simple act of just cleaning jewelry can often cause inconceivable damage to either the gemstone or the mounting that holds it. It would be like using glass cleaner to clean a stain on a tan suede leather couch. There are certain things you just don’t do to your jewels. Cleaning fine jewelry ... Read More »